Watch my statement here:

Or read my intervention at the Council of Europe below:

Ladies and gentlemen,

Yesterday at least 22 human rights activists were brutally arrested at Istanbul’s pride. 22 people, arrested, without any respect.

Rubber bullets were fired at them by the police, who were heavily present and outnumbered the brave activists. The police had clear instructions from the government, from the conservative AKP party, from president Erdogan. President Erdogan is supporting the Ülkü Ocakları ultranationalists rather than human rights defenders. This is simply unacceptable and should definitely be taken into account in the monitoring procedure here at the Council of Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me remind you that homosexuality has been legal in the Ottoman Empire since 1858, and in modern day Turkey since its founding in 1923.

Of course, there always has been discrimination and harrassment, but the governement has always protected LGBTI minorities. This certainly has changed. Today, in 2017, violence and hatred are used by the authorities themselves…

It is difficult to believe that it is already the third succesive year that Istanbul’s Pride has been banned. After 2015 and 2016, the opposition by the government against the Pride in 2017 even got worse. We remember 2014, when 100.000 people united to celebrate LGBTI rights, which are human rights. Or think of the smaller prides in Izmir, Gaziantep, Kocaeli and Mersein which wére able to take place this year.

The Turkish regime clearly wanted to make the Istanbul Pride a symbol of their ideology, by arresting LGBTI activists with aggression. The president’s conservative comments on sexuality and family planning have turned into aggressive actions against whoever thinks differently.

We, parliamentarians who believe in human rights for everybody, should be smarter and respond united, without agression. United, exactly, that’s what we should be. United with all who strongly believes minority rights àre human rights. United with women, girls, LGBTI persons and other human rights-activists. All progressive forces all over the world can create alliances. United we are stronger.

We cannot let President Erdogan’s regime continue with his conservative and aggressive policy, when 88% of the Turkish people say they prefer a secular state, and especially when most women and citizens of Istanbul voted NO to the referendum in April. They need our support!

Colleagues, we need to support the LGBTI activists who demonstrated and were arrested yesterday. They are too beautiful to hide in the shade. We should all stand with them and support them in their legal complaints against the the authorities for using hate and violence.

I am happy to repeat their slogan here: “We are not scared, we are here, we will not change.” This is how democracy was built and why we are here. We may not be scared by authoritarian regimes. As De Tocqueville once said: Tyrants only seem large when we are on our knees. Let’s not be on our knees and not accept what happens in one of our largest member states. What happened yesterday must be taken up in the Turkish monitoring process, because human rights are our pride!

Thank you.